Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
David Chen is one lucky /Filmer because he got to post last night’s piece on Michel Gondry directing the Green Hornet movie. Actually, you’re lucky I didn’t do it myself because it would have been so excitable and squealing I’d have had to design a new font especially, and possibly even colored all of the text in neon primaries.
Seth Rogen has spoken to MTV about his longstanding desire to have Gondry direct the picture, and what Gondry did to wow the studio into submission.
To convince the studio to let him do it, he filmed a fight scene on his own. He just hired stunt men and did it by himself! Just to show some of the stuff he could do, some of the weird filming techniques he has and some of the stuff he can pull off. I mean, this is something he did in two days and it was instantly unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It was impossible not to hire him once he presented what he could do for it.
I would eat at least two my own fingers to see this demo clip. I would eat them raw.
Rogen also revealed that he’d been e-mailing Gondry about the film for some time, knowing that the director had previously planned to make the film as his feature debut in the mid-late 90s. It was in this studio unsanctioned correspondence that Rogen sent Gondry the script, which he “totally got”. Rogen adds that a lot of potential directors did not “totally get” the script – please speculate wildly as to who these individuals might be in the comments section.
Much love is also going on in Alan Moore‘s interview with Wired. This is obviously timed to coincide with the Watchmen movie, which is great for the picture if the old adage about bad publicity is true, but sucks for them if it isn’t.
Moore believes that Watchmen requires to be in the medium of comics to work because a film plays out at a fixed rate, out of the control of the viewer. Indeed, he seems to be using that argument to suggest comics are superior to films in general.
The little symbols and signs appearing in the background, every little touch could be choreographed to the last detail, and we knew that the audience – because they’d be reading at their own pace – would be able to study each panel and to take in these almost subliminal details. Even the best director in the world, even a person as talented as Terry Gilliam, could not possibly get that amount of information into a few frames of a movie. Even if they did, it would have zipped past far too quickly. Because the audience at the movie theater is not in control of the experience in the same way somebody reading is.
Did I just read Alan Moore calling Terry Gilliam the best director in the world? Very possibly. Well, if I did, he definitely got that right. Here’s more of the genius on the genius:
I think that Terry understood my point. When we did meet – which was mainly just because I thought it would be really good fun to meet Terry Gilliam, and so it proved – Mr. Gilliam did ask me how I would go about translating Watchmen into a film, and I said to him, “If anybody had asked me, Terry, I would have advised them not to.” I think Terry is an intelligent man and came to that conclusion himself. And I think he said something to that effect, that he thought it was something probably best left as a comic and shouldn’t be made into a film.
I agree that the Watchmen comics are almost immeasurably more rich, complex and dense than the Watchmen film; I also agree that they are structured and related in a way that benefits from careful reading; but I see two major flaws in the argument – besides the not inconsiderable fact that the film has turned out to be well worth it’s running time.
Firstly – Terry Gilliam’s own Brazil is every bit as dense as Watchmen, if not more so. With a five hour running time, or something like that, it would have matched (if not trumped) Moore and Gibbons’ comic for accumulated detail and complexity.
Secondly – Yes, a film moves along at a fixed pace in a cinema, but not necessarily on DVD where much more control is afforded to the viewer. Is the pause button really any more destructive to narrative flow than reading backwards through pages? More importantly, however, a film shouldn’t necessarily have to prove fully soluble on first screening. What’s wrong about these details going by quickly and needing multiple viewings to weed them out? A film only has to succeed in some way on the first viewing, not give up all of it’s many levels of richness. See again, Brazil.
There’s a short documentary on my Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD in which the film’s producers (Bregman and Golin, if memory serves) compare Gondry to Gilliam – but they wield the similarity as a weapon. In their mind, Gondry and Gilliam’s insistence on pursuing artistic excellence in their own, idiosyncratic and dedicated ways is something that they had to suffer, to humor, not revel in.
And therein I present a neat summation of why so many of the bad films you see are bad – though in the defense of this particular pair, they did work with Gondry to get the film made, and largely on his terms.
This world needs more Gilliams, more Gondrys and more films from the ones we’ve already got and less scaredy cat crap from under the thumb of wuss producers.